Juan de Palafox y Mendoza – The History of the Conquest of China by the Tartars

Juan de Palafox y Mendoza, Bishop of Puebla in Mexico, was privy to reports of the Manchu conquest of Ming China via the Phillipines. Though he had never been to China himself, Palafox used those reports to write a detailed history of the conquest. Throughout, the Manchu are referred to as Tartars.

Pages 521-522

The Tartars exercised their Souldiers every day before the Palaces of their Vice-Roys : There they drew up the Troops in Battalia, and fired at one another with their Muskets and Guns as eagerly, as if two Armies had been contending for Victory. They had likewise Prises, and persons appointed to take notice of, and recompense the address and expertness of those who shot with Bows and Guns every day at a mark. Whosoever hit the mark with three Bullets, or three Arrows, had given him, as a reward, a little piece of Siver Plate, fashioned like a shell, worth about four Julio’s ; ( a Julio is in value about six pence sterling : ) He who hit the mark twice had one worth about two Julio’s ; and he who hit it but once had one only of the value of one Julio. But they who missed the mark thrice were instantly bastinado’d. And to disgrace them the more, were publickly hooted and hissed at, or else had some other affront put upon them. The Tartars were not obliged to these exercises, but the Chineses of those Provinces, who had submitted themselves, that by custome they might learn not to be afraid of Guns or Arms. They designed by this continual exercise, to disaccustome them from that Effeminancy and Laziness, in which they had lain so long buried. These idle Fellows would very willingly have been excused from this trouble. But they deserved to be learnt by their Enemies the exercise of Arms, that they might carry them in their Service, since they so little concerned themselves, to make use of them in the defence of their own Country, and for the preservation of themselves.

Page 524-526

[The Manchu] Bows and Arrows are their most honourable Weapons, of which they are very proud, and take pleasure in shewing how skilfully they can shoot with them, which they do so dexterously, that several person with one draught of the Bow will let fly three or four Arrows at a time, with that force and violence, that should they at a due distance hit any man, the lightest would pierce him quite thorough. Their Bows are rather little than great. They are light but very strong and solid. Their Arrows are some long, some short, but all so strong, that they will pierce through a stiff board : The Iron heads are made four square, or triangular, but long and extraordinary well pointed and tempered.

They had no Fire Arms, when they first entred into China :  But as soon as they had possessed themselves of some places, they took out all the great Guns, Muskets and Fire Arms, which they found, and made use of them ever afterwards. But they never employed any Tartars as Cannoneers and Gunners, but only Chineses, and some few Europeans : Nor suffered any to carry Muskets or Fire Arms, but only the Chineses of those provinces which had submitted themselves, with whom they encreased their Army, that they might the sooner compleat their Conquest. As for Petards or Fire-works, they neither know how to make them or use them, nor how to spring a Mine. It may seem strange, that the Tartars would thus put their best Weapons into the hands of their new Subjects, and not learn how to handle them themselves. That they should train up both Citizens and Countrey people in their Military Discipline : For which several persons censure the Conduct of Xunchi, as likewise for entrusting the Princes of his Family with so great a Power. But this Monarch was convinced that the more he confided in his Uncles, the more he engaged and secured their Loyalty ; and by manifesting how little he feared, and how much he slighted the Chineses, he made them the more dread of his valour, and the courage of the Tartars.

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